Digital innovations designed to tackle the Fall Armyworm
The finalists of the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize
In the beginning of the year we posed the question, Can ICTs be used to fight pest’s outbreaks? Such as the Fall Armyworm? At that time the two initiatives by Farm Radio Trust and CABIs Pest Risk Information Service) PRISE stood out. Recently, we just announced FAO and Pennsylvania State University launched the Nuru app for the Fall Armyworm.
In 6 months, thanks to the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize, a number of ICT-based initiatives have come to the fore.
The Finalist in the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize
On March 28, 2018, Feed the Future and its partners launched the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. The prize received more than 225 applications from across the world, 80% of which emanate from the African continent.
The judging panel selected 20 finalists from Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Taiwan, Israel, South Africa, Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A browse through the submission reveals that most of these innovative solution (s) seek to use technology to detect the Fall Armyworm and then alert the farmers. Some additional service layer added could be education on what the Fall Armyworm is, pesticides to use and also sending the geo-referenced data of occurrences to centralized alert systems.
For example, the “Boa Me – translated “Help Me”) is a Ghana web-based , artificial intelligence-powered app that combines past data, satellite data and user information about fall armyworm and translates it into insights that farmers can access through local voice systems, SMS alerts, or a public announcement system. While the Africa Rising, South Africa, understands when outbreaks of fall armyworm might occur, provides advice and answers questions from farmers – essentially an early warning system.
About 80% of the finalist use data analytics driven by artificial intelligence or machine learning (for example, Saillog (Israel); EzyAgric (Uganda); Farm smart Pest and Disease [PAD] App).The submissions are very interesting in their diversity of approach, no solution relied on a single technology.
There was also a reliant on humans and helping existing extension services. Some applications adapted to local languages and also usability by standard cellphones as opposed to smart phones and offline functionality.
Visit the page here to browse the summary of each project.